The Death Of Geography Is Greatly Exaggerated

from the location-location-location dept

One of the most common themes of writing about the Internet is that it's going to make geography irrelevant. There's clearly something to this. I'm writing this post in St. Louis, and before it goes live it will be looked over by Mike, who's normally in the Bay Area but is in Scotland this week. Still, Tim Harford has an interesting essay arguing that the Internet can also make geography more important by increasing the value of living in a high-density area. He gives online dating as an example: in the old days, a single guy living in New York might have several million single women to choose from, but with no way to quickly sift through all those options, the New York dating scene wouldn't be noticeably better than other cities. But now, with online dating, people have much more sophisticated tools to sift through the options and find someone who perfectly matches their interests, age, religious and political beliefs, etc, before they ever meet. I've personally noticed the high cost of not living in a major city. I've met a number of people online through a shared interest in technology policy, and almost all of them live in the DC, San Francisco, or New York metropolitan areas. So while the Internet has made it possible for me to write from anywhere, it's also made me more acutely aware of what I'm missing by not living in a larger metro area.

Filed Under: geography, internet

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  1. identicon
    ohnopirates, 23 Jan 2008 @ 8:04am

    A profound misunderstanding

    There's "geography" as a term demarking space, and geography as an academic discipline.

    People have been calling for the "death" of geography for over thirty years now, but here we are, still chugging along.

    I actually think that geographic ties are becoming more profound with the increased use of the intertrons.
    Just in my own research, people from culturally different geographic areas will interact with web sites in differing ways (thanks analytics!) - this is outside of language differences that may exist.
    Virtual space is used and conceptualized in different ways by geographically disparate populations.

    Then of course, there's the wonderful world of IP. Look at the Oink bust - servers in one country, admin in another, laws of a third.
    The internet represents the "destruction of time and space," much more so than say the railroads did.

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